The Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom, an opening day attraction, has been closed since January. This was to be expected, of course, as it always shuts down for a bit when a new president is inaugurated so they can incorporate a newly elected official into the show. However, this time is a little different as the reopening date has been an ongoing question: originally slated for early summer, the attraction is still shut down (as of writing this post). Various reasons have been given, including a huge upgrade to the theater’s technical systems, but there’s still no real indication as to when they’ll be unlocking the doors and letting guests back in.
While there are rumors that suggest it’ll be reopened by this Christmas, others have been indicating that the attraction may be closed permanently and something new will be taking its place. If that latter rumor turns out to have any truth to it, then there’s likely a whole team of Imagineers right now who are brainstorming about what to put into the space.
To assist these hardworking folks, I’ve gone ahead and put together a list of ten concepts here that they’re more than welcome to use. I’m helpful like that.
The Muppets Present
This concept is actually pretty straightforward, as it just takes the show that’s out in front and moves it into the theater. The clever and very entertaining “The Muppets Present Great Moments in American History” show can be seen throughout the day right outside of the Hall of Presidents. Kermit and his friends take on a couple different pivotal moments in the country’s history (with all of the gravity and seriousness you’d expect. Which is to say, very little). There are downsides, though: right now folks have to stand up to watch it, and if it’s raining people are less likely to stop at all. So why convert the theater into something tailored specifically for this show and bring it inside? It could have neat things that happen all around the audience, like MuppetVision 3D in Hollywood Studios, and it’d eliminate the risk of weather hampering the experience.
What better way to introduce folks to American history than with singing chickens and a joke-telling bear?
Great Imperial Moments
In Disneyland, the classic Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln attraction debuted in the park in 1965 (and at the 1964 World’s Fair before that). Focusing on just the one president rather than all of them, the show starts with a biographical movie and then has an animatronic version of Honest Abe talk. Why not go with that same type of attraction for a newly renovated Hall of Presidents… but with a modern twist? Since it seems like Disney’s goal is to put hot intellectual properties wherever they can in the parks, I give you: Great Moments with Emperor Palpatine!
The concept is basically the same thing as what’s in Disneyland, but with an exciting Star Wars overlay! The Emperor will talk about his rise through galactic politics, his clone army, and even give guests a cool behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the Death Star! The film will showcase his younger years, and then an animatronic Palpatine will take the stage and say something about crushing the Rebellion and the power of the Dark Side.
It’ll be a great way to keep the style of the classic attraction, but shoehorn in a popular franchise. Perfect!
Great Moments with Grover
So what if we like the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln concept of just focusing on one president, and we appreciate the entertainment value of adding fun characters, but think that Star Wars may be a bit of a stretch for Liberty Square? This next idea addresses that very thought: Great Moments with Grover Cleveland, starring Grover!
In this fun new attraction, the cheerful blue Muppet from Sesame Street will be the emcee as he narrates a biographical look at the president’s life. He’ll be sure to include tidbits like the color of Cleveland’s shoes, whether he’s wearing a hat or not, and what his favorite number was. There’ll be plenty of serious history and hilarious slapstick as the fuzzy blue monster sings and dances his way through the president’s life. There’ll even be a high-flying segment, right over the heads of the audience, featuring Super Grover!
In the finale of the show, Grover and Grover will sing a song about the Constitution, as well as how important it is to eat all of your vegetables.
The Return of the Future
I mean, they could just build a new Horizons there. Though, to be fair, I think any available spot anywhere in Walt Disney World could potentially be a place to put a new Horizons attraction…
Other concepts in this vein include “Universe of Presidents,” a ride which features a really cool dinosaur part followed by a half hour educational film, “World of Presidents” which delves into the history of different presidential modes of transportation, and also “Journey Into Legislation” in which a whimsical new character sings about making laws
Presidential Meet and Greet
For many guests, meeting their favorite character is a pretty big part of the Disney parks experience. So, in this concept, let’s take the fun of a meet & greet and blend it with the excitement of the highest office in US politics.
That’s right, turn the space into a themed meet & greet area with Rutherford B. Hayes!
Guests can meet the nineteenth president, pose for photos, and even get his autograph! Since he’d be a “face” character, too, he can talk and tell them all about the end of the Civil War and the Great Railroad Strike. Good ol’ Rutherford will be sure to enchant folks of all ages with his witty banter full of mid-1800s colloquialisms, like “lally-cooler” and “shoddyocracy”.
Honestly, almost any president would work well in this new imagining of the attraction, and the space is large enough to even have multiple options available at one time (like in Pete’s Silly Sideshow or Princess Fairytale Hall). I just like saying “Rutherford B. Hayes”.
Cats and Dogs, Living Together
If there’s one thing that Disney–and really almost everybody–loves, it’s cute animals. With that in mind, the Hall of Presidential Pets will be all about the cats and dogs (and other critters) that have resided in the White House.
The Hall of Presidential Pets concept is actually based upon the current model, in that it features a series of figures from throughout history. However, instead of focusing on the presidents themselves, this fun new show will instead showcase their pets! Whether it’s Washington’s donkey, Rutherford B. Hayes’ English Mastiff, Lincoln’s cats, or Harrison’s opossums (seriously. They were named Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection), every pet that’s ever been a part of a presidential family will be included. Even John Quincy Adams’ alligator will be there!
In this exciting show each animal will be highlighted, while a narrator talks a bit about the history of pets in the White House. However, to really give it a fun Disney feel, at the end all of the animals will sing a cheerful tune (in the vein of the Sherman brothers). Guests will laugh at the antics of these furry friends, and be humming the tune for hours afterward!
Gifts for the Patriotic
The Hall of Presidents building would be the perfect place to add in a big new shopping area, and in keeping with the Liberty Square theme all of the items the store sells could be presidential-themed!
Children will love Washington’s chattering wooden teeth and big foam Nixon fingers, and they’ll definitely want to collect the entire set of presidential Tsum Tsum. There’ll even be a special exclusive available just in this shop: Lincoln’s stovepipe hat, with Mickey Mouse ears (and attached chin beard)! There’ll also be a special Photopass spot where guests can get their pictures taken and then turned into Magic Shots featuring a random president (like Rutherford B. Hayes). Plus, for kiddies who love getting their faces painted, there will be a booth right out front that specializes in drawing different presidential facial hair–from the muttonchops of John Quincy Adams to the long beard sported by James Garfield.
Disney loves gift shops, and kids of all ages love products based on presidents, so this is sure to be a hit!
Mr. Taft’s Wild Ride
Take a much-loved (and very much missed) attraction and add some presidential flair, and you’ve got this exciting concept for a new dark ride!
Like J. Thaddeus Toad from Wind in the Willows, William Taft was apparently an automobile enthusiast, so this concept is really a no-brainer. In keeping with the style of the original ride, this new attraction has guests climbing into a car and then going on a crazy adventure. However, rather than careening through the world of Toad and his friends, Mr. Taft’s Wild Ride goes through the different judicial offices in Washington. Riders zoom through the Oval Office, up and down the halls of the Capitol Building, and between the shelves in the Library of Congress (all circa the early 1900s when Taft was president, which is also coincidentally when Wind in the Willows takes place).
Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, Mr. Taft’s Wild Ride inexplicably takes guests through an odd vision of Hell at the end.
Hall of Presidents: Under New Management
This is almost exactly like the current Hall of Presidents. The only real difference is that at some point during the show Iago from Aladdin pops in and starts being obnoxious. Not much else has been fleshed out on this concept, however it’s been suggested that more fire extinguishers than normal be put in the building.
Capitalism, the Ride
So what about going in an entirely different direction and putting in something that would really liven up Liberty Square: an exciting new thrill ride, featuring Disney characters, that also has something to do with the economy? If all of that sounds brilliant (and I think that all of my ideas do), then this last idea will be perfect. Introducing “Uncle Scrooge’s Money Bin Drop!”
In this fascinating attraction, guests board a gantry lift a la Tower of Terror. Scrooge McDuck then takes them through a journey which shows how he became the richest duck in the world. Animated sequences show him earning his very first dime, working hard, and going on to make billions.
Cameo appearances by other DuckTales characters are peppered throughout the attraction, and won’t guests be surprised to find out that the hapless Launchpad McQuack is piloting their vehicle! Which, of course, leads to the highlight of the ride as it takes a freefall drop into Scrooge’s money bin!
We may eventually see the Hall of Presidents reopen, and remain the Magic Kingdom classic that it’s been since day one. If Disney does decide to use the space to bring a new attraction to Liberty Square, though, I hope that they find these ideas useful and could see any one of them (or more than one) as a great addition to Liberty Square!
I have plenty of others to share about what to do with Tomorrowland, EPCOT, etc… so if Disney Imagineering needs any more help, I’ll be waiting here for my call!